Sense & Centsibility Blog

Setting Up Your First Apartment on a Budget

Moving out and into your first apartment is exciting, but may seem a little intimidating, not to mention expensive. Here are tips to ease the burden of moving on your wallet.

Furnishing your new place

Furniture is going to be the most expensive part of getting your first apartment ready. But the good news is that there are ways to dramatically cut costs.

  • First, check with family and friends to see if they have anything they don't want. I once got an armoire and dresser for FREE because I was willing to haul it myself. (And I still have it after 13 years!) Even if you have to rent a truck, it's way cheaper than buying the furniture.
  • Next, try consignment shops, Goodwill, Facebook or other online garage sales for used furniture.

Kitchen supplies

Just like furniture, you can often find cheap silverware, dishes, pots/pans, glasses, and cups at consignment shops or garage/estate sales. Because this is your first place, you it doesn't need to be fancy - especially when you're just starting out in the working world. So instead of shopping for high-end, expensive kitchen-ware, start cheap until you work your way up.

Family and friends also sometimes have items that they never use or have too much of. (In my case it's pint glasses...I have way too many!) So ask them if they have anything you can take off their hands to help them declutter.

What not to buy used

Towels, bedding, and a mattress are a few items you may want to consider buying new. However, it's still a good idea to check with your friends/family network because if they have those items in really good shape, it can definitely save you some cash.

If you're looking for a new mattress, be sure to shop around. And I am talking both in furniture stores and online. I got a really nice foam mattress on Amazon that was hundreds of dollars less than I could have purchased in a store. Plus, it was delivered right to my door for free.

Make it your own and save money

In the average apartment building you probably aren't able to paint to make your place feel more cozy. So instead, check out removable wall decals or wallpaper that won't cost you your deposit and yet will still improve the ambiance.

If you don't want to bother with the wall decals, get some curtains for a pop of color. Or, decorate your walls with prints of your favorite photographs. There are also plenty of cheap wall decor ideas on the internet. So hit Google or Pinterest and find something that you like. You can also make it a fun day with a friend. Shop together for supplies to split the cost and work on the project together. That way you both save money and get a cool decoration out of the deal.

Another relatively cheap way to brighten up your space is with a plant or two. And you can buy a cheap, plain-colored pot and paint it to save some more money.

Let there be light

Depending on your place, some apartments have overhead lighting and some don't. Even if you do have it, a standing lamp can set a better mood. Plus, you can probably find a used lamp on the cheap.

Time for a celebration

Now's the time to sit back and relax and enjoy your newly found freedom. Not to mention, invite a few friends over (BYOB to save money) and have an apartment warming party. :) Congratulations on your first apartment!

Author Elaina Johannessen is a Program Director with LSS Financial Counseling.